The Grand Camouflage: The Communist Conspiracy in the Spanish Civil War

By Burnett Bolloten | Go to book overview

28
The Overthrow of Largo Caballero

S TRENGTHENED by their secret agreement with the Prieto Socialists, the Communists now required a suitable opportunity to bring their struggle with Caballero to a climax. They did not have to wait for long.

On May 3 -- in circumstances that have yet to be fully analysed -- an armed conflict flared up among the anti-Franco forces in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, followed by four days of costly fighting.1 Exploiting this episode, the Communists demanded the suppression of the anti-Stalinist POUM,2 a Marxist party which they held responsible for the bloodshed, and whose leaders they had long been denouncing as Trotskyists and fascist agents. Every instrument of propaganda at their disposal was immediately set in motion to force acceptance of their will, and their agitation assumed a frenzied character:

"Our principal enemies are the fascists," declared José Diaz at a public meeting on May 9. "However, these not only include the fascists themselves but also the agents who work for them. Of course, if these agents were to say, 'We are fascists and we are working among you in order to create difficulties,' we should immediately put an end to them. For this reason they have to give themselves other names..... Some call themselves Trotskyists, which is the name used by many disguised fascists who use revolutionary language in order to sow confusion. I therefore ask: If everyone knows this, if the government knows it, why does it not treat them like fascists and exterminate them pitilessly?...

____________________
1
A detailed account of this conflict lies beyond the purview of this volume.
2
Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista. This party, which was important in Catalonia, possessed little more than a skeleton organization outside that region, and is therefore not dealt with in this volume.

-307-

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